With people now interacting with brands and expressing their thoughts and musings in social media, you can find out exactly what is being said about your brand. In turn, these conversations can provide a detailed insight into your customers’ perception of your brand’s personality, which you can then use to hone the brand to better meet the needs of your consumers. But why should you be concerned with your brand’s personality?
Carl Jung and Personality Theory
Personality is, by its very definition, intangible and something that is subject to individual perception and intepretation. Carl Jung, the estemeed psychologist, proposed that a personality could disguise itself beneath a persona – a front for how we want to be perceived in social interactions. As social media becomes a more prominent marketing channel, such interactions will increasingly occur here.
Airlines and Brand Personality in Social Media
Consider how airlines have taken to social media like a duck to water – adopting it as a means for customer service for social interactions in managing perception. Twitter for example, may not have been primarily thought of as an area of concern for customer service issues – airlines though have adopted it as a one-to-one customer service channel in managing issues and perceptions. In social media, and Twitter in particular, perceptions can be managed on a real-time basis through frequent and consistent interactions through hashtagging relevant topics and @ mentioning your consumers.
When Iceland’s awkwardly named Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted in 2010, The Changi Airport Group used Twitter and Facebook to ensure its already angered customer base found solace in offers of hospitality for stranded passengers; a touching effort by the company. Translating to marketing speak in this instance, the brands personality was dictated by the consumer’s perception of and interactions with the lines of communication. The brand personality was developed to fit in with the consumer base’s expectations, needs, and wants.
In order to fit in in such a way in social media, brands need to adapt to, mirror and exude similar behaviours as their consumer base. This allows a brand to be more relevant and relatable, as it is in essence speaking the same language as the people who consume the brand.
Open Dialogue Style Communication in Social Media
Saying that social media provides you with a greater level of insight into shaping your brand’s personality, also suggests that there has been a paradigm shift from one platform to another. The dated modus operandi involved marketing at consumers, which was primarily one way flow of traffic for communication – you were broadcasting to the consumer and not listening to them. The new platform, social media, allows for an integration of open dialogue-style communication with your brand. Consider it a party where consumers are, without recourse, discussing in the open exactly what they think of you. This means that you can find out what people think of your brand, why they perceive it so, and also how they may be being influenced by the ‘recency effect’ in everyday social media conversation.
Such is the nature of social media, an overload on intake can lead to ‘information fatigue’, which can lead to more ill-informed decisions by consumers. Such is the nature of consumer habit in social media, we are wired to give greater weight to change and the most recent information. As the behavorial economist George Loewenstein words it ‘we pay a lot of attention to the most recent information, discounting what came before’. Communities in forums exhibit this behaviour in abundance where product reviews and discussion on product/service experiences are discussed in high volume. The ‘recency effect’ here exhibits itself in later posts in a thread retaining the potential for greater influence. Eric Kessler, management expert at Pace University, aptly summarises this point; ‘we’re fooled by the immediacy and quantity and think it’s quality’.
So what does this mean for brands and shaping brand personality in social media? Brands need to embrace the vast myriad of conversations to satisfy Carl Jung’s theory and ensure that the brand is continually being honed for future social interactions. In other words, the brands dynamic is continually meeting the dynamic needs and wants of the consumer.
Using Social Media-Driven Conversations on your Brand
The previous points lead to another factor congruent to shaping your brand’s personality in social media. Picture the scene in your ‘think tank’, heated discussion on your brand is taking place with reams of adjectives being batted about. Meanwhile, next door there is another group, just as important a group of stakeholders, who are also discussing your brand. The first group are in essence, entrapped within a glass case of emotion, unaware and possibly afraid of what is being said about them. Social media gives you, one of the people in that ‘think tank’, an opportunity to place a paper cup up to the wall and listen in on what is being said about your brand.
Invaluable insights gleaned from consumer conversation can be used to refine communications and touchpoints in shaping how the brand personality will be perceived. It gives you an opportunity to bridge the gap between a brand’s perception of itself and the consumers perception of the brand.
Social Media Conversation: The Who, Where, When and What about your Brand
Consider how previous to the advent of social media these group discussions would have taken place in the equivalent of a private party – no brands welcome! The previous analogy used of holding the paper cup up to the wall hints at another advantage inherent with social media – you are privvy to the knowledge of where this conversation on your brand is taking place. Social media allows you to find out where the party is occuring (as long as it is public) and attend it (barring any logins or firewalls).
Furthermore social media allows you to directly address any discrepencies identified – for example differences in how you want your brand to be perceived and how it is actually being discussed. An example of a brand proactively doing this is Virgin Mobile Australia – @VirginMobileAus. Here, social media is used as a customer service channel to manage and influence shaping of the brand’s personality individually and on a real-time basis. Listening and frequently engaging with its customer base allows it to be in control of a brand’s tennis elbow – the expression of negative customer service experiences online.
Use Social Media Conversation to hone your Brand Communications
In short, social media should be viewed as an opportunity to influence areas of concern that make up your brand’s personality; confidence, trust, user-generated content, word-of-mouth, relationships, and reputation, that all would not have been as easy to gauge and manage before the advent of social media. Bridging the gap between a brand’s perception of itself and the consumers perception of it is a perfect fit for using social media with these areas of concern. Using social media as ‘the paper cup to wall’ can offer you insights into how your brand’s personality can be developed to fit in with your consumers, and ultimately satisfy Carl Jung’s intepretation of the law.